Ayala – Independent and Family-Owned Champagne
Ayala was founded in 1860 by Edmond De Ayala and the House still sits under the watchful eye of his family today. Ayala is famed for its pure expression where they put the grape flavour right at the top of their priority list – in particular, the House champions Chardonnay. The Champagne was also one of the first to produce a low dosage Champagne, in 1865 – meaning much less sugar in the blend. Prior to that, sweet Champagne was the go-to for the aristocracy. In the 1920s, Ayala enjoyed a boom in popularity hitting production of 1 million bottles – however, it slowly waned and only in 2005 was revitalized!
What is the House philosophy?
As you have seen, purity and Chardonnay can sum this up pretty succinctly. This is now achieved by the range of crus Ayala work with to achieve the perfect balance and freshness for their Champagne. They have 70 crus to choose from allowing great blending potential every vintage. Of course, these days technology plays its part where cutting-edge tools allow for micro-precision in the winery and the ability to evaluate chemical compositions to nail every blend. As for the winemaking, besides the core role of Chardonnay and low dosage, Ayala also carry out extended lees ageing in their wines from a minimum of 3 years. This allows great complexity and depth to develop before they hit your glass.
I was lucky enough to attend a tasting dinner at Ayala’s HQ in Bermondsey and quickly became a fan.
Ayala Brut Majeur is the flagship of the House exemplifying Chardonnay (at 55% of the blend) and 3 years lees ageing perfectly. A cool, crisp Champagne lifted from a citrus core by bready, toasty notes.
Ayala Rose Majeur still maintains Chardonnay as the majority of the blend. It is fresh and light with wild berries and a long finish. Definitely worth trying if you need a new style of Rose Champagne.
Ayala Le Blanc De Blancs is the ultimate for Chardonnay lovers and only made in exceptional vintages. It spends 6 years on its lees and blends lighter and weightier parcels of Chardonnay perfectly. As expected, it is full of white fruits, floral essence and citrus with a pleasantly creamy texture, chalky flavour and pastry.
Ayala Brut Nature exemplifies the pioneering attitude of the House. A zero dosage, uber dry Champagne that will delight the most discerning drinker. A masterclass in finesse.
Ayala La Perle is indeed the pearl of the collection. A vintage Champagne which sadly I cannot quite recall which one I tried, but do remember there were under 20 bottles left for distribution in the UK at the very least. It had intensity, finesse, elegance, depth and complexity. 8 years of ageing really brings out the yeasty notes of pastry, brioche and toast whilst the fruit intensity is powerfully precise.
Read more by David Andrews here
Updated 15th January 2024